Tag Archives: vegetables

Creamy Tarragon & Dijon Spring Chicken

12 Jun

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How many times have you looked in your fridge for some dinner ideas and all you see are chicken thighs, chicken fillets, chicken quarters, with no other meat whatsoever. Oh yeah, that’s definitely my fridge! As most of you might know, I cannot convince myself to buy a ready meal… I have a feeling my mom will just sense it across the waters that I popped it into the microwave! She will know, all the way from South Africa! Mothers and daughters have this strange connection, and mine definitely knows when I’m up to something!

It’s no secret that chicken is a favourite among most. In my house, THE favourite when the lion gets to decide what he wants for dinner. Lets be honest here, he actually decides what he wants for dinner every night, along with a little bit of imagination from me when I start naming a few dishes. Well,  his favourite… you guessed it,  chicken fillets. For the love of my taste buds, REALLY??

Some days, you’ve just really run out of ideas! A while back I posted a recipe for chicken fillets with tarragon and I started thinking how I could adjust it slightly for something new and fresh. It took a glass of wine, some good music and another browse in my spice cupboard and fridge, but I came up with a different take on chicken thighs with tarragon. A little bit of lemon, white wine, courgettes and that cheeky spoon of mustard! Definitely not for the faint hearted as tarragon has a very specific taste. I might even say an acquired taste for most, but don’t be afraid, why don’t you just try it?  I hope you like it!

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Ingredients

1 pack of chicken thighs, skin on

1 x bunch of fresh salad onions (big chives really)

half a glass of dry white wine

Juice of 1 fresh lemon

2 x medium sized or 1 large courgette, chopped to a medium size

1 x tablespoon of dried tarragon

250 ml of cream or soya cream (dairy intolerant)

1 x onion, roughly chopped

1 x bunch of fresh green asparagus, roughly chopped

1 x pack of small button mushrooms or normal mushrooms (you can chop these in half)

1 x tablespoon of olive oil

1 x pack of fine glass rice noodles (or any rice noodles)

1 x heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard

salt and black pepper to taste

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This is a lovely one pot dish! Get a heavy bottomed casserole / stew saucepan/pot to cook this in. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celcius.

Add your olive oil to your saucepan and start frying your onion until transluscent. Add your chicken and start frying and sealing it. Season with salt and black pepper.

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Once its golden,add your tarragon and start mixing through. Turn up the heat a little bit and add your white wine.

Once the white wine has started to bubble with the chicken and onion, add your cream or soya cream and lemon juice.

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Place it in the oven for 20 minutes with a lid. Remove the lid and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes, making sure your chicken is on top, allowing for a crispy skin.

Add your courgettes and asparagus and mix through the mustard as well, but make sure to add the courgettes to the side and underneath the chicken, still ensuring that when you’ve mixed it through, your chicken is still on top allowing it to stay and even become more crispy.

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Allow to cook uncovered in the oven for another 8 – 10 minutes or until your courgette is al dente. Very important, you don’t want the courgette to overcook, or it creates more water, taking the taste away from your indulging little sauce.

In the meantime, take one cube of chicken or vegetable stock and bring to boil in a saucepan. Add your glass noodles. Most of the time these only cook for about 5 – 7 minutes, so keep an eye on them.

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So, you’re done! Drain your noodles, place them on the plate, placing the chicken and veg on top and drizzling with your lovely, creamy, tarragon sauce!

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zesty and tangy summer chicken

4 Aug

From THE worst blogger in the world! I never seem to have enough time to do posts every day, not even once a week! Especially since summers in London are so short, I tend to say away from all technology, and I’m hoping this will pose as an excuse for my #noblognessdisease

asparagus

It has definitely caught up with me, since I’ve started to become a bit “low”, which is what happens when I’ve not been creative for some time.

I do hope this post will lift my spirits, and encourage your appetite!

 

mushroom

Zesty & tangy summer chicken

2 x teaspoons olive oil

season with Schwartz season all / chicken spice to taste

1 x pack of chicken thigh fillets

2 x tablespoons of capers

2 x handfuls of sliced button mushrooms

juice of a lemon

2  x handfuls of fresh oregano

2 x bunches of fresh, green asparagus

1 x red onion, finely chopped

2 x teaspoons of butter

30ml dry white wine

sprinkle of grana padano / freshly grated parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

mushroom onion

Heat the olive oil in the pan. While its heating up, season your chicken thighs with the season all / chicken spice.

mushroom asparagus

Cook the thighs about 7-10 minutes on each side, depending on their thickness. You want it to become crispy on each side.

Meanwhile, while your chicken is cooking, take another pan and melt the butter in it. Add your mushrooms and gently fry them. While you’re frying them, check your chicken thighs. As soon as it has cooked crispy on both sides, add your browned mushrooms to the chicken.

asparagus and oregano

Mix through and add half of the lemon juice. Allow to simmer for a minute or two and then add the capers and white wine.

Take the remaining butter and add to the pan the mushrooms were cooked in.

asparagus and onion

Cook the asparagus with the freshly picked leaves of the oregano in the butter, season with salt and pepper and allow to grill in the pan for a few minutes. Now add the finely chopped red onion and mix.

oregano

mushroom and asparagus

After frying slightly,  add the remaining lemon juice and white wine. Allow it to simmer away slightly, but make sure the asparagus doesn’t overcook, or it will be soggy. You want it to stay firm. Sprinkle over a little bit of freshly grated parmesan, and you’ll sing!

assembled chicken

All you do now is dish it up!

assembled chicken

If you feel like it, you can always lean over to the posh side and add a cheeky poached egg on top, either one is really tasty!

assembled chicken

Buttering up with a butternut soup

18 Jan

butternut

London is in its typical winter mood. Icy cold, a bite in the wind that you cant shake off and that ongoing darkness. This will be something that our friends happily forgot when they moved back from Spain to London. True to my style, I wasn’t too happy to go outside today, seeing its weekend and all and its freezing!!!

butternut pieces

Glancing at my little vegetable stand, I had two butternuts peeking at me. Butternut soup? When last did we have that?! Well, needless to say, I just had to mention “butternut”t to the big old lion and he was sold!  I can’t say the same for my friend Franco. When I mentioned it, he half-heartedly pulled a face and mentioned that it is not really one of his favourites. I can tell you one thing, he ended up asking for seconds. I didn’t even manage to photograph the soup, it was finished before I got the chance to do so. New things DO happen daily in London! Just ask my new soup fan!

whole vegetables

Butternut, orange and coconut soup

2 butternuts, peeled and roughly chopped

Teaspoon olive oil

2 red onions, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

250ml coconut cream or coconut milk

500ml chicken stock

juice of half an orange

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

salt & pepper to taste

red onion, vegetables, butternut soup

Gently fry the onions in the olive oil until soft and sweet. Add the butternut, salt, pepper and cumin. Mix through for about 5 minutes while it cooks and infuses with the onions.

chopped vegetables

Add the chicken stock. Allow to boil until the butternut is nice and soft.

coconut cream and stock

Now, add your coconut cream and mix through.

crushed garlic

Finally, add your orange juice, mix through. Blend till smooth with stick blender or blender.

cumin

soup

Serve with a squiggle of fresh cream drizzled in the soup and some warm, crusty bread.

soup

Easter festival celebration

5 May

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It has been more than a year since I last posted on my blog, normal excuses are the ones that come to mind, busy lifestyle, rushed, not time to sit down and just enjoy the small things. Today, after a relaxed lunch with my beautiful friend Louise, I’ve been nudged to post a blog again. After all, she was the one that asked me what happened?! Life. Rushing to work, rushing from work to gym, rushing home from gym to cook a quick supper, have an hour and go to bed to do the same thing all over again. Well, today, I take some time to post one of our yearly celebrations we have in our home.

Living abroad, your friends become your family and each celebration is a special one. Each year, we all sit down together around a table groaning under too much food and wine, and all the diets and healthy lifestyles are out of the window for one day. I can’t treasure this time in Easter enough! So this post will be a long one, and I hope to post more often after this one.

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Beetroot, goats cheese & candied pecan salad

1 x pack of cooked beetroot

2 x packs of good quality goats cheese

150g pecans

1 x large pack of lambs lettuce

2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard

50 ml extra virgin olive oil + extra 10 ml olive oil

2 teaspoons of freshly chopped thyme

60 ml white wine vinegar

pinch of salt

half teaspoon of crushed garlic

pinch of freshly ground black pepper

50 g icing sugar

Take 10 ml of olive oil and pour it over the fresh thyme. Crush roughly and sprinkle it over cut pieces of goats cheese. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Place the pecans in a colander. Boil some water and pour it over the pecans. Place the pecans a bowl and sieve the icing sugar over the pecans. Mix through thoroughly with your hands, until the pecans are coated with the icing sugar. Place the pecans on a non stick baking tray and roast it in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes, taking time to turn them so they don’t burn.

When done, remove the pecans from the oven and allow to cool. Mix the mustard, olive oil, vinegar, pinch of salt and pepper and shake.

Place the lettuce in your salad bowl and arrange the beetroot, cut into pieces on the lettuce. Roughly break and sprinkle the goats cheese over the salad leaves. Toss the candied pecans over the salad. Now pour over the dressing and toss lightly. Ready to serve.

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Roasted sweet potato with lemon, red onion & sweet paprika

5 x sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

3 x lemons, cut into wedges

4 x red onions, roughly chopped into wedges

2 x teaspoons of smoked, sweet ( or normal) paprika

50 ml olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper

1 tablespoon of wholegrain mustard

2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, roughly chopped

8 garlic cloves

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.  Mix all oil and spices together. Toss the lemon, sweet potato & red onion in the oil & spice mixture. Place on a non stick baking tray and roast in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Serve hot or cold.Image

Traditional roasted crispy potatoes

1. 5 kg potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 teaspoon of salt

60 g salted butter

2 pinches of fresh thyme leaves

Place the potatoes and salt in a saucepan of water, cover and heat. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. When the water starts to boil with the potatoes, boil for 2 minutes only. Drain in colander. Remove the water from the saucepan and place the butter & thyme in the saucepan. Heat and allow the butter to melt.  Place the potatoes back into the saucepan and mix through until it is covered and has absorbed the butter. Place in a non- stick tray and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until crispy and golden.

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Rack of lamb with fresh minted yoghurt marinade

2 x racks of lamb

2 pinches of salt

2 x pinches of black pepper

1 x tablespoon of olive oil

2 x teaspoons of mixed herbs

1 teaspoon of crushed garlic

1/2 teaspoon of lemon

For the minted yoghurt

1 & half cup of double Greek yoghurt

1 handful of finely chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

pinch of salt

pinch of black pepper

Make sure your racks of lamb are at room temperature. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Mix all the ingredients together for the lamb. rub it all over the racks of lamb. Cook the oven for 15 minutes if you like it red. If you prefer it well done, cook it for 20 – 25 minutes. When you remove it from the oven, allow to rest. While it is resting, mix together all the ingredients for the minted yoghurt. When the lamb is rested, spoon over the minted yogurt and serve.

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Cider marinated & roasted pork shoulder in sweet, smoky & sticky barbecue sauce

1 x large pork shoulder joint

2 pinches of salt & black pepper

1x red chilli, finely chopped and seeds removed

2 teaspoons crushed garlic

50 ml red wine vinegar

1x teaspoon paprika

250 ml tomato sauce

250ml barbeque sauce

2 tablespoons of Worcester sauce

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and pour over the pork shoulder. Cover with foil. Cook for 3 hours, spooning the sauce ( marinade) over the pork every hour. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Reserve the sauce to pour over the pork when serving.

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I also prepared and cooked a red wine marinated leg of lamb (I  was not sure if there would be enough food) and you will find this recipe in my recipe index. Don’t forget to make a bowl of rice too!

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What a lovely and special day we had with all our friends and family. I’m lucky enough to have my sister in law living close by.

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In the end we are blessed with a wonderful group of friends.

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There was an absence in my heart from our dear friends Danni & Emily, but we will see them when visiting Canada later this year, cant wait!

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A refreshing change.. .. minty, fresh meatballs

15 Mar

No tomato meatball fights today!!! No energy for it to be honest. Why is it that we ( this would actually be me) get soooo excited and inspired by many things that we always want to do everything all at once and succeed with all of  it at once, immediately?

Well… its definitely not refreshing to say that it is covered in impatience as well… and a bit of disappointment. I know it is because I have been trying to do everything at once… and doing everything at once amounts to eventually getting nowhere at all.

So after a weekend filled with doing nothing….( yes, lying on the couch eating numerous amounts of  food does amount to doing nothing.)… BUT, I was very tired and exhausted and in a lot of pain.. so I would think this is a good enough of an excuse 🙂

However, this amounted to me feeling very guilty for not taking ANY photos, writing ANY blogs or making ANY food…You read it…. my Conan, hero of the household rescued me this weekend providing me with food,, the game of throne series and copious amounts of tea  ;-p

Now, feeling slightly better, I  have decided to do a new take on meatballs… especially after my Big boy and I are the new faces of Gaviscon.. less tomato.. less indegestion. SO… it is the season of spring… and it is fresh and it is green… mint.. mint … and mint… and always, naturallly, garlic 🙂 This happy dish put a smile on big boy’s face… and as always I hear him eating out of the saucepans in the kitchen again… a very familiar sound I may add.

Creamy minted meatballs

1 onion very finely chopped ( use a food processor)

2 teaspoons of fresh mint, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of garlic

2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of dried chives

1 pack of 250g  beef mince

1 egg

3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

2 handfuls of mushrooms, roughly chopped

3 handfuls of mixed greens, roughly chopped ( mine was cabbage and spinach)

2 cups of orzo pasta

600ml of vegetable stock, made with one cube

2 tablespoons of olive oil

250ml of cream/soya cream/ creme fraiche

Fresh parmesan for grating

1 ripe avo,cut in pieces

Chop your onion into pieces small enough to fit into your food processor and add 1 teaspoon of the garlic and all the mint. It should be processed to quite fine, until it is just almost a paste, but not a paste.

Place your mince in a mixing bowl and add the cumin, chives, breadcrumbs and egg. Flavour with salt and pepper. Mix well. Now, make them into little meatballs. Whichever size you prefer.

When this is done, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a heated pan. Now, add your onion, mint and garlic mixture to the pan. Fry gently for about 7 minutes. Now, place your meatballs in the pan with the onion mixture. Let them brown in the pan and squiggle them about.

While the meatballs are cooking, add the remaining olive oil to a heated saucepan. Add the remaining garlic and add your mushrooms. Fry them until just slightly browned, and add your greens. Mix through. Now, add your orzo and mix through and then add your vegetable stock. Keep the heat on medium while cooking the orzo and stir frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Do not put the lid on, keep it uncovered.

While this is cooking, check on your meatballs. If they are brown, add your cream and turn it down so that it simmers gently. Dont forget to check on your orzo.

This should be done when 90% of the liquid has been absorbed. Usually about 10 – 15 minutes.

When it is done, dish up the orzo, place the meatballs with its sauce on top, grind over some black pepper, add your avo and grate with a bit of fresh parmigiana,  and you’ve got yourself a winner!

Peachy pork

13 Jul

Yup, you know it! Everything is peachy! Even my pork ;-p Well, maybe not the weather. If I had to get a mental picture while eating  a peach, I would imagine lying on green, floaty grass with the sun shining on my face, and.. well, this is London and even if it is summer, there is no sun. Lucky for me, I had a lovely day and enjoyed working again and helping out a few people. It just shows you what the right atmosphere can do to improve your mood! 🙂 Happy thoughts!

It might also be that I had a construction worker screaming after me this morning, in a VERY heavy irish accent that I “Looked more beautiful than anything he had seen that morning”! Usually I would greet this with a stare that could kill, but this morning I actually started laughing! Sometimes London puts on its tutu dress and dances like a lovely ballerina!

Yesterday I bought some peaches, a whole punnet, for only £1! Add to that, a pack of pork steaks for £1.43 and it already creates happy rays of sunshine in my life!! So, sitting at work today in my happy mood, I fantasized about lovely, juicy ripe peaches, a delicacy to me 🙂 Needless to say, after biting into one when I got home, there was nothing delicate or sweet about these evil buggers! Looks can be deceiving! Then I thought, if I added a little love and sweet words of encouragement, they will turn into a lovely, colourful and sweet surprise of  luscious infusions 🙂

To top this, was a picture in my mind of the one and only licking his plate clean….. as happy as a pig in mud! Which, I am very proud to say, he did! Who needs a puppy when you have your own true love cleaning his plate like that ;-p By now, after all this mumble jumble, I still have not mentioned what I cooked! So here we go: Peachy pork steak with carrot & cabbage fritters… and like our family like to call it.. “flied lice” ! ;-p  Fried rice for those of you that get a terrible mental picture right now ;-p

Peachy pork

3 – 4 pork steaks

2 peaches, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of sunflower oil

1 clove of garlic, grated

1/2 teaspoon of ginger, grated

4 tablespoons of honey

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of finely chopped, fresh rosemary

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Fritters

1 carrot, grated – medium size “grater”

1 cup of cabbage, grated – medium size “grater”

1 tablespoon of flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon sweetner/caster sugar

Pork

Place your butter, ginger, garlic, oil, rosemary and spring onions in a pan. Fry for 5 minutes. Place your pork steaks in the pan and allow them to brown on the one side. Add your peaches. Shake them around in the pan. After the steaks have gone golden, turn them.

Add your vinegar and honey and mix around so that the steaks and peaches get coated in this sweet sauce.

Taste and season with a little bit of salt.  All the while, while your steaks are getting their lovely colour, mix all the ingredients together for the fritters. Heat oil in a pan, enough to be more than a slight layer, but not as much as when you would fry chips. Make sure the oil is hot enough. Take a tablespoon and use this to place small oval shapes in the oil until they become brown and crispy and turn them over. Place on some paper towel to absorb the extra oil.

Serve up with your pork steaks, egg fried rice and the lovely sticky sauce! Heaven!

She’s always a “hearty” woman to me…

11 Jul

Today’s post was inspired by my beautiful mother, which includes the song -“She’s always a woman to me” from Billy Joel. There was a recent add on tv from John Lewis and the way that they portrayed this woman, with the song, was almost a replica of my mother. It depicts how she met her husband, got married, worked, started and fed a family and how her life turned out… tune in, I will attach the video to my blog, just so all of you will know what I am talking about. This is the wikipedia explanation for Billy Joel’s song: “She’s Always a Woman” is a song from Billy Joel‘s 1977 album The Stranger. It is a love song about a modern woman, with whom he falls in love for her quirks as well as her flaws. Now, just to clarify this, my mother has NO flaws! She is the most perfect woman, and oh how I am blessed to have such a mother!

Ever heard of having your heart connected to another with a long string? That is what it feels like to me, with my mother in another country. Till this day, it amazes the hubby how my mother and I are connected. One example? I asked my mother one afternoon in a email what she was cooking that night and it turns out we were cooking the exact same dish, without even speaking to each other. We share everything, from cleaning tips to “calming down after the toilet seat was left up again” and how to make a wilting, dying plant grow again and flourish! So, this brings me to the rest of the inspiration for today, “harvest diaries”, a book I am reading about the daily chores on a organic wine and fruit farm. The way the writer describes her day is so similar to my mother. From when I was little, everything my mother grew, always flourished. She would tend to the garden, make fresh delicious food, be a shoulder to cry on, be a career woman,wife, mother, sister, a friend and make all of it seem so simple and easy. She puts her heart in everything, and that is why this blog is titled “hearty” woman to me.

In winter, we would come home and you could hear the fire crackling, which she lit earlier and smell a lovely waft of homemade lentil soup and fresh bread and when entering the kitchen be embraced by her in a warm hug. This is beauty to me. She can enjoy anything and everything, mend anything, cook anything and it is all a picture of love and contentment. Of course, I could never be close to this, but, I now live for planting flowers, herbs and vegetables, making our house a home, to cook something simple and turn it into a feast, and all the while,not thinking about not being a stick and embracing my curves, pale skin and loud personality, because this is who I am, and all of this came from my mother ( and of course I have to say my father ;-p) She showed me what is important in life. So, in her words, when I am not particularly feeling like the beauty prom queen I am ( wink wink) look at yourself in the mirror and say “hello you drop dead gorgeous, beautiful thing!”

Well, I don’t need that anymore, because I know that certain things aren’t worth fussing about. I would rather fuss about my Lentil soup and try and figure out what I would add to make it taste like something magical happened in my kitchen ;-p So on the menu today, Red split lentil soup and home made bread 🙂 This one is for you mom, still know I won’t be able to top your lentil soup, but I might come close!

Homemade bread

125ml warm water

15g instant yeast

250g strong white bread flour

1 teaspoon of salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

twig of rosemary

3 sundried tomatoes

Mix your yeast into your warm water. Set aside and allow it to stand for about 10 minutes, until it starts creating a thick froth. Sieve your flour and salt into a bowl.  Mix together with the yeast and olive oil and put it in your mixing bowl with a kneading hook. Put the machine on low and keep it going for about 10 minutes, adding flour and warm water if neccesary. The dough is correct if you touch it and it springs back immediately. Now, rub a bowl with olive oil and rub the dough ball around it. Cover with a cloth and blanket and keep in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours. Punch it back about 7 times and knead again for 4 minutes. Cover again and allow to rise double the size. Preheat your oven to 230 degrees celcius. Rub your loaftin with olive oil. Now place your dough in the tin. Push some rosemary sprigs in your bread, and put the sundried tomatoes on top. Grind some salt over. Now allow it to bake. It is done when it has a hollow sound when you tap it.

Red Split Lentil Soup

2 onions roughly chopped

4 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

2 teaspoons of curry powder

juice of 1 lemon

75g of strong mature cheddar, grated

4 teaspoons of red pesto

1.5 litre of vegetable or chicken stock

Grated parmesan for garnish

salt & pepper to taste

Heat a casserole saucepan with the oil and add your onion and cumin seeds. Fry for about 5 minutes and now add your curry powder.

Add your lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Squash your garlic slightly and add to the soup. After this, simmer your soup for about 30 minutes. Then, add the lemon juice, cheese and pesto and mix through.

Flavour with salt and pepper. Dish up, grate over some parmesan and enjoy with your freshly baked bread! Happiness! 🙂

And for those that would like to watch the add that I think resembles my mother, here you go 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYOsWWKHZVw